Have you heard yet? “Heard whit,” you say?! Oh ho ho, you mustn’t be cool enough to have caught up yet… Well what you might not know is that there’s a new set of rules for how to go clubbing, and if you don’t follow them, you’re a worthless piece of shit! So says Vice’s Guide to Raving. Which actually just means clubbing and has no meaningful awareness or connection to the history of the rave lol.
Most of the guide is boring self congratulatory pish about how to dress and how to judge how cool you are by which afterparty you end up at, not to mention a clanging, unfunny reference to missing flight MH370 (seriously whose idea was that leds?). But there are a few standout lines that underscore the privilege inherent in this idea that the ‘sanctity’ of the modern club scene is really worth promoting, defending and closing ranks for, culminating in the ice cold belter “clubs need to regain exclusivity; otherwise they might as well be another local radio music festival.” No really.
I hear you thinking “why would you take an article by hipster tryhard magazine Vice seriously?”. You’re maybe even reading Vice’s piece and thinking “isn’t this just a rehash of countless other stupid filler articles on this topic?”. Well exactly, the problem with the dirge Vice have farted out this week is just how common these stinkin, snobby attitudes to clubbing are. So because we love lists just as much as Vice do, here’s a rundown of what to avoid thinking about clubs and the punters inside them unless you want to get yourself a reputation for being some sort of cunt.
5 signs you’re a club snob who belongs in the bin
5. You never shut up about “the experience”
Look, I get what clubs are all about, what people who go hope they can do for them, and I don’t fault people for trying to reach that experience for themselves. Particularly if other aspects of your life are shitty, go get that release! Get down with it, get mad with it, whatever you need. I’m not a club hater, regardless of how many shitty experiences I’ve had in them, usually at the hands (literally) of grabby men, which we’ve discussed before. I’ve still had those great experiences, where there’s just that perfect combination of the right beat, the right amount of chemicals, the right kind of friends, and the atmosphere just feels RIGHT.
We all know how to have a good night and don’t really need Vice to patronise us with a guide. But a great, important event can’t happen every time, by it’s nature it’s a once in a while big fuckin YES. And if you think it can happen for everyone in the club, if only they’d just follow some basic rules, you’re fuckin delusional.
The high of it, the great communal experience, it’s a good aim to have, I’m not disputing that. It makes a lot of sense to want everyone to get the most out of the experience, for it to be something unique. No one wants to go to the club and feel like they might as well have just trudged about a busy shopping mall with their ipod on, and we all wish we could have been about to see what the Paradise Garage was like. But some clubbers just take the search for the perfect atmosphere too far. Tony Naylor from the Guardian has strong views on it.
“If, in a moment of transcendent musical ecstasy, somebody smiles at you, smile back. Clubbing is communal. Embrace that. If that same person then offers you a swig of their water and/or a sniff of their poppers, don’t look at them as if they’re handing you a fresh, steaming turd.”
Fuck off mate. This isn’t 1968, clubs don’t need this hippy shit forced upon them to serve a positive cultural purpose or to just be a good time. Other people are entitled to be there without massaging your ego and responding to every advance from a stranger. Get fucking real – people have a right to go to the club even if they’re not swinging from the discoball overflowing with joy. And no one owes you a smile. Clubbing is just as gendered as anywhere else in the world and it’s no more ok to tell a woman to smile in the club than it is passing her in the street.
There are too many problems in the world for the issues that infect the club experience, and turn some people off it altogether, to be solved by a daft wee list of rules written by the people who’re already being catered for most anyway. And more people are being turned off by these shitty, insular attitudes than by any amount of phones in the club or EDM in the charts. If the coked up babies over at Vice cared about the club being a transcendent experience they’d focus on it becoming more accessible and more safe than it being more exclusive for them and their shit wee pals. And if you need everyone else in the club to be on the same wavelength as you before you declare it a good time then you’re not as into it as you think you are.
At the end of the day the clubbing experience is a tiny fraction of the overall fuckin patchwork or tapestry or whatever else wank imagery you want to use of what can be good about life. If you take the sanctity of the experience so seriously that it comes at the expense of being a decent human being and treating other people with respect, then you need to step out of the sweaty, dingy club basement and take in the sunlight once in a while.
4. You hate “Part Timers”
Well fuckin good for you, you’ve managed to get yourself a job somewhere like Vice that both funds and encourages you to go out all the time and get deliriously melted. Congrats on your charmed life – free from the burden of un- or under-employment, children or other dependents, chronic health conditions and plain old reality – you’re free to experience that borderline-existential soul-freeing release you crave at the club almost any time you please. Good. For. You.
Obviously the best way to celebrate your relative freedom to enjoy life on your terms is to set yourself apart, way above those boring vanilla pricks who only make it out to the club once in a while. They’re just soooo undedicated to the SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE that is clubbing, there’s only one thing for them: “pure fucking animosity” (copyright Vice 2014). In fact, Vice put ‘part timers’ lower on the respect scale than violent, aggressive dickheads in the club!! s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y
As we’re told, the joy of clubbing is that it’s a uniquely and intensely freeing experience, bringing people together in an atmosphere free of the worries of life outside, united in the music or whatever else OTT pish. The thing about actually believing that though, or at least believing that that’s what should be at the heart of a good clubbing experience, is that you kind of have to practice what you preach in creating that atmosphere. It’s a bit of a contradiction to see yourself as a ‘full timer’, dedicated to really getting the most out of the experience and creating this incomparable atmosphere, yet to send negative vibes out to people taking a tentative step into the waters of the scene, or people who really only can make it a once in a while thing. Who is more in need of this escape and this beautiful atmosphere that matters so much to you, the people who actually have things going on in their life to escape from or the self important crowd of hipsters who do this shit every night?
Whether you believe that the club already is utopia (lol) or whether you’re a bit more realistic and just recognise the potential for a really good night out to be a genuinely profound experience, under the right circumstances, for some people (reasonable), you have to actually put the work in to creating that culture. The fact is, if the majority of modern day clubbing (sorry “””raving”””) caters to your schedule, tastes and emotional and physical wellbeing, you’re either hella lucky or (more likely) hella privileged. There’s nothing interesting or noteworthy about wanting to preserve access to a good time to only the most “dedicated”, which in this case is straight up code for privileged. It’s none of your business if I know who the DJ is or not. It’s none of your business if I’m only there to spend time with my friends and not to reach the next level of nirvana. No one has a better reason for wanting to go out (to what at the end of the day is *just* a place in which to dance and exist) than anyone else, you boring fucking bastards.
n.b. the only clubs who have a right to retain a form of ‘exclusivity’ to protect the atmosphere from genuinely destructive outsiders are LGBT clubs. Get over it. Exclusivity is legit when it’s a matter of safety.
3. You think smartphones should be banned from the club
Let’s just get down to the point of this. You’re pure sexist if you hate people who take photos of themselves/their pals in the club. Cause who does that? Women do. Particularly working class women. Maybe you wouldn’t take photos of your unwashed hair and your normcore wardrobe, but some people put a lot of effort into looking good for a night out, and if they want a few photos, leave them the fuck alone. They’re not bothering you. You’re only bothering yourself if you’re giving that much of a shit about something that’s none of your business. If you think it’s shallow or tedious or whatever, you’re a fucking misogynist.
Of course photos aren’t the only reason why someone might have their phone out in a club. Vice also reserve some hatred for people using the app Shazam, which you can use to scan and identify which song is playing. I truly can’t understand why you would be against people enjoying a song and wanting to know what it is so they can play it at home?? Unless you’re the most virulent of music snobs and despise those ‘undedicated’ people who don’t have all the connections and tools to find every new song as it comes out. Or is it that DJs are the harbingers of all that is cool and only they have the right to impart wonderful new music to the people? Seriously it’s fucking stupid. Clubs aren’t the be all and end all of the music experience. For me, they’re a once in a while thing. I get club fatigue if I try to go every weekend, and the shittier sides of them reveal themselves more often the more often I go. If that’s someone’s attitude to clubbing then that is ABSOLUTELY FINE and they’re no less a music fan than you. I get so much more out of music by listening to it at home or with friends than I do in the club. If I respect a DJ’s taste enough to turn up a their night and trust them to play new stuff to me that I might enjoy what’s the fucking problem with finding out what’s playing? It’s certainly a lot less intrusive than asking the DJ directly, or leaning into the booth to get a swatch at their laptop. Also there’s plenty of skeevy gross DJs I wouldn’t talk to if you fucking paid me but who play music I like (Hudmo springs to mind lol). The best I can work out, being against someone shazaming in the club – which I always do discretely by the way, it’s not really that hard?? – is some sort of combo of luddite/primitivist anti-technology bullsh, and an elitist, protective view of who music knowledge is for? IDK, it’s fucking stupid.
Vice actually goes so far as to applaud a Berlin club for employing a “fucking hero whose primary role is to confiscate phones”. If you touch my phone, or congratulate someone else for touching my phone, I’ll have no hesitation in confiscating your testicles. As someone with an anxiety disorder, my phone is a crutch when I’m feeling awkward, lonely, embarrassed, uncomfortable, or unattractive. If I need a wee fiddle with my phone to check the time or refresh twitter for something to do, leave me the fuck alone. I’m not sub-human scum if I dare to go out to the club and not fully get into it to your standards. I deserve a night out every bit as much as anyone else, and it’s actually a fuck of a lot harder for me to get through the night than it is for people who’re comfortable in crowded, social environments, so gies some peace to do it at my pace. And it’s not like you even have to have an actual anxiety problem to sometimes feel anxious in environments like that, anyone can at any time. Maybe coke is your crutch to get you through it, everyone has their own ways of feeling more comfortable. Stop pretending that seeing a wee phone light out of the corner of your eye every now and again is even a fuckin issue, “get some real problems” springs to mind if that’s really the thing you find most annoying on a night out.
Aside from the sexist, classist and ableist fucknuggetry at the heart of the anti-phone/get-in-the-moment-or-else stuff, it’s also just daft. It’s 2014. If you hate new technology so much fuck off back to the 60s and bore yourself silly trying to decide between the Beatles and the Stones, waiting for that song you like to be played on the wireless again cause you’ve no other way of ever hearing it. New technology brings you all the music you love, whenever you want it. New technology means the DJ doesn’t need to drag around a backbreaking crate or spend hours pissing about with scratched CDs. Take the good with the bad and get over it.
2. You make some half-hearted reference to ‘fuckboys’ but don’t actually care about changing the scene to make it more comfortable for women
One of the biggest issues I have with all these rules about how to be a good little clubber is how ridiculously petty they are in the face of the real, massive problems with club culture. Why are you getting upset about Shazam or whether someone is really knowledgeable enough about the DJ to “deserve” being there, when there are disgusting men in every single nightclub who are there to prey on drunk women? Get some fucking perspective. If you can go to the club and feel safe most of the time, feel like you don’t have to watch your drink or make sure a guy friend’s standing between you and that creeper staring at you, you’re very lucky cause a huge number of us can’t and it’s a major major put off to even stepping out the door for a night out, let alone returning with frequency. So shut up about fuckin phones! And better yet, actually take some action when you spot a creeper in the club. Sexual harassment, sexual assault and the rise of a macho attitude towards clubbing and especially towards women DJs are easily the biggest issues with clubbing right now, but no one ever seems to want to talk about that, and specifically about how it’s a very big problem in ‘cool’ clubs and not just something that can be dismissed as a problem of ‘chart’ clubs or whatever else snobby pish.
Avoid saying sneering, self absorbed shite like this dude in this fucking Guardian article
Girls. Young girls. You’re in a good club; stop acting so petrified. You don’t need to trail around holding hands and sneering at anybody who crosses your path. Men are not the enemy. Nor are other women. Do not try and recreate a bitchy American high-school prom in what is a club-space full of perfectly reasonable people. You’re worried that you’ll lose your mates? That’s the point! Now, lighten up.
30 year old guys at the club who have never had to experience what young women do can suck my actual welt trying to lecture us on how to behave and how to have a good time. When we no longer have to protect ourselves and take a defensive stance, then we’ll fucking talk about communal experiences.
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Margaret Atwood
1. You think you’re better than people who go to the Garage
…or wherever else true modern day “””ravers””” of the cool clubbing elite consider beneath them.
n.b. this particular form of classist snobbery isn’t restricted solely to the Vice-toting “””rave””” purists but is also a staple of the twee vintage scene (you know, the type who think it would be fun to live in the 50s because they are white and straight and have no self awareness, folk who don’t realise that winching strangers was exactly what people went to the Barrowland Ballrooms for lol)
This sort of shit is where you really draw a line in the sand between the cool, forward thinking, classy elite of the club scene, and the fucking plebs that the rest of us apparently are. You’re not better because you seek out music on blogs instead of the radio. You’re not better because your idea of fun is swaying in the direction of the dj than dancing in a circle with your friends. You’re definintely not better at creating a good atmosphere if your atmopshere is based on exclusivity and elitism. Give me shots and chart hits in the Garage any day over some greasy haired fuckwit thinking they’re better than people cause their club’s smaller and their trainers are dirtier. I don’t even like the Garage but I can guarantee a far more welcoming environment! And for the record, I’ve been sexually assaulted in more Sub Club type clubs than I have in Garage type clubs, so don’t delude yourself about the “quality” of punters you’re attracting to your exclusive nights.
One of the most fucked things about this hierarchy of experiences is the double standards. Because at the core of it actually clubs are all the damn same, there’s always some people being catered for and others standing there like whit am I really supposed to be enjoying this shit? Its fine to enjoy one kind of club and not another but creating a hierarchy is pathetic. Even Vice (with zero self-awareness) have to admit that “frankly being a dick to some people for having more fun than you sucks”. The same shit is happening everywhere and some of it is daft and some of it is fun and some of it is disgusting. But if you’re a club snob then what is cutting-edge, even revolutionary in a cool club, is base and classless at a chart club or an EDM festival.
Some fucking snobby DJ (sorry, “one of the biggest DJs in the world”) Seth Troxler put it like this, in an appalling article that someone really should have thought better of before publishing in Vice’s music offshoot Thump
I see some fucking crazy shit in clubs, and some fucking sad shit at festivals. It’s such a fine line. Like, that photo Eric Prdyz tweeted from Ultra? Of a girl doing lines of coke off another girls naked vagina? At a festival, that’s gross. In a dark club, it would be kind of hot. In Berghain, that shit stands for freedom. At Ultra, it stands for excess and trash.
The first time I ever played at Berghain, there was this big bear of a dude in assless leather chaps and a leather harness on the dance floor. I was playing ‘Yellow’ and when he bent over, this other guy came over and starts eating his ass. Everyone around them was just dancing and being all cool. I was like “……..that’s interesting”. But that’s a revolt against the world. That’s the freedom of the club. Falling in mud and getting cake thrown at you? That’s not freedom. You’re an idiot listening to shitty music.
I fear if I talk any more about techbros steam will come pouring out my ears, so I’ll leave you with this. I think the 1994 bell hooks essay “Power to the Pussy“, which discusses Madonna’s simultaneous appropriation and othering of LGBT culture, has a lot of relevant parallels to the modern day dance music scene. All dance music, whether it’s EDM, techno, house or whatever, has its roots in LGBT culture and particularly black LGBT culture. The music and the clubs where dance culture blossomed were experimental – those DJs and those artists and those punters were putting that forward thinking energy out there and learning from each other and none of it was perfect, but some pretty fuckin special moments happened throughout that journey. I’m sure the punters in those clubs all had/have their own memories of times when those experiences were genuinely transcendent and brought something special to their lives, but I can bet you none of those moments came out of following some restrictive made up rules for how to have a good time handed down by the self-elected elite.
There’s no contradiction in getting the most out of the club and just letting go of your control. Stop trying to ‘shape’ the atmosphere. And there’s no shame in admitting when things have sucked and gone wrong and the club has been a negative force. Just be open to change and to learning, that’s the only real rule to not having a shitty attitude to clubbing. It makes me boak when I hear these techbros acting like they’ve got the answer, they’ve found the path to what it’s all about, why won’t the plebs just listen. It’s a massive backward step and couldn’t be further from the roots of dance culture and the search for a free, open and inclusive experience. If you think anyone found all the answers yet, let alone the straight, white, able bodied men who have never needed the club to feel on top of the world, you’re sorely mistaken. Larry Levan is spinning in his grave at your shitty little rules.